WLA Notebook: Burnaby Lakers are back on track with 3 big wins following slow start

Colton Clark has been a big help with 12 assists in Burnaby's last 4 games, 3 of them victories. (Photo: Dan Brodie)
Colton Clark has been a big help with 12 assists in Burnaby's last 4 games, 3 of them victories. (Photo: Dan Brodie)

There are a few different ways to look at the 3 games the Burnaby Lakers played before last night’s 5-4 loss to New Westminster. All 3 were wins, which is welcome news after their 0-3 start. Two of the 3 wins came against perennial WLA powers in Langley and Victoria. And all 3 wins were by 1 goal, which bodes well for future pressure situations. Even last night’s loss was by 1 goal. But the bottom line is the Lakers are 3-4 now, and right back in the thick of it. “We’re out of the basement now, and as a team we’re right back in the hunt,” Burnaby’s Dane Stevens told Burnaby Now following Sunday’s win over Nanaimo. “It was a big win for us. Everyone’s got a couple of losses. It was a good effort from the guys.”

Part of the turnaround can be attributed to the return of 2 key players. Casey Jackson is back from his season at ASA College in New York City and had 13 points (3-10) in the trio of games, and Tyler Digby is back from Robert Morris. He had 5 points (2-3). Both were scoreless last night, but in a game where the teams combined for 9 goals, no one really did a lot of scoring. Point is, the Lakers are coming together as a team.

“We had a full lineup. Everyone was doing what we’re practising. We’re young, but everyone’s getting better,” Stevens said after Sunday’s win. “Everyone knows what we’re trying to do.”

The other factor is a downer unit that held all 4 opponents to 8-for-22 on the power play as coach Rory McDade told Burnaby Now that “I think we found our discipline and work ethic and it showed in the game.” And when the defense wasn’t doing its job there, goalies Dan Lewis and Joe Bell were combining to make 154 saves in the games. Lewis got 2 of those wins, sandwiched around Bell’s 46-save performance against Victoria. And the praise was high for Bell after that win over the Shamrocks that included some key saves down the stretch.

“I had to hang on,” said Bell. “We played so well. We really needed that game.”

Yet as well as they’re playing now, the Lakers will need more. After last night’s game against New West, they’ve got Nanaimo again tonight before wrapping up their weekend with a Sunday game away to Maple Ridge.

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The Salmonbellies came into Thursday’s game against Burnaby as losers of 2 straight and giving up 9 — yes, 9 — power-play goals to Maple Ridge in Sunday’s 17-15 loss pretty much speaks for itself. “We outscored them 13-7 even strength. They had nine goals on the power play and an empty-netter. That tells you a lot about how we’re playing,” coach Steve Goodwin said. (Royal City Record) … The Coquitlam Adanacs were outscored 3-0 in the third period by New Westminster but held on for an 8-7 their last time out. Considering it’s their second straight win after a 0-4 start, coach Bob Salt will take it. “I think we came out and looked real good to start the game — the score kind of flattered the Bellies. We still didn’t shoot as well as we should and we took some late penalties that didn’t help, but we held on.” (Coquitlam Now) … The Nanaimo Timbermen have lost 6 straight since winning their opener, but the season is hardly over. There’s a big test this weekend with a Friday game at Burnaby and a Sunday game at home vs. Coquitlam and the Timbermen say it’s time to start putting their experience to work. “We can’t keep learning. We have to do. The learning time’s over. This part of the season now we’ve got to start fixing those mistakes,” said Chris O’Dougherty. (Nanaimo News Bulletin) … Two of their last 3 losses have been by 1 goal, and it’s those kind of decisions that make the little mistakes a bit more pronounced. “We have to play smarter lacrosse, plain and simple. When we do play good, we score goals and we shut down defensively,” coach Kaleb Toth said. (Nanaimo News Bulletin) … If you see Gary Porter at a Maple Ridge Burrards game, or at a Langley Thunder Junior A game, or a Langley Intermediate game, or even a PeeWee game with the Mission Lacrosse Association, you might think he loves the game. He does, but he loves watching his sons play even more. Colton plays for Maple Ridge, Zack is with the Junior Thunder, Brodie is with the Intermediate team and stepson Nathan plays with the PeeWee team. (Chilliwack Progress) … The Victoria Shamrocks have had a week off to reflect on last Friday’s 12-11 loss to Burnaby, but coach Bob Heyes was hardly upset with the loss. It was the team’s fourth game in 8 days and Heyes admired the effort even if it did come up short. “We didn’t quit. Our offence really started to find their groove. It’s what we’ve been looking for. The guys gutted it out, for sure,” Heyes said. (Times Colonist) … So even though the Shamrocks gave up 25 goals in their last 2 games, after averaging 7-per against in the first 4, Heyes isn’t too concerned and believes his boys will get it back on track. “If it’s a shootout, we should be able to win a shootout and if it’s tight, we should be able to win those, too. It’s still a work in progress though. I’m not concerned, we have a lot of work to do and the guys realize that.” (Times Colonist).

Chavez is an avid lacrosse player in Rochester and a journalist for the Democrat and Chronicle as well as a longtime Inside Lacrosse contributor. Email him at bob.chavez@nllinsider.com or go to RochesterSports.com.

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